We could all use a little fairy godmother action. For designer Erin Ruby, it came in the form of Mary Jo Miller, vice president of design for HBF Textiles. When Ruby was just a sophomore at Virginia Tech, Miller served as an
advisor to the interiors program. This led to a 16-year relationship that
eventually resulted in the Erin Ruby Collection, which had us clambering all
over ourselves at NeoCon to find out who this new girl on the scene was.
Her work was new to us, but Ruby’s practice has a heavy commercial
design focus, and she boasts quite the storied past in product design, having
worked with brands like Tuohy and Halcon.
And now she’s out to give the word “trend” or “trendsetter” a new wrap
with this, her most recent line for HBF Textiles. “It’s a word that designers
tend to shy away from because there is a misconception that trend cannot
coexist with innovation or timelessness,” Ruby said.
When Miller began talking to
Ruby about the over-dependency
she senses on double rubs—when
the fact of the matter is a fabric will
tend to “ugly out before it wears
out”—she began to wonder what
causes a fabric to ugly out if it is
so over-engineered. Why can’t it get better with age?
Together with HBF Textiles she set out to create a textile collection that
achieved the time-worn patina that is so admired in leather, where mistakes
are celebrated rather than hidden away. This was achieved with textures
and weave structures that are more residential in nature—wider, looser,
more tactile, and that add a certain warmth and intimacy to commercial or
“They look like they could have been handwoven or hand-stitched. We
also focused on types of yarn thicknesses that allow for those natural mistakes
to happen,” she explained.
Her true point of pride within the seven patterns is the 100 percent natural
cork (on the face) upholstery with a polyester knit backing. It can also be
specified as wallcovering or panel wrapping, and has a beautiful sustainability
story: It’s rapidly renewable, inherently antimicrobial, and impervious to water.
“It’s so hard to actually have something completely novel in design,” she said.
As far as we’re concerned? Mission accomplished.
IT ONLY GETS BETTER
Erin Ruby's textile collection for HBF honors time worn rather than working against it.
By AnnMarie Martin | Photography courtesy of HBF Textiles
Ruby drew inspiration from a variety
of sources, including
the canvas bag at
top (found here:
the cork dress above
(learn more here:
Check out the people and products
that made us stand up and take
notice at this year’s fair.